HPO

ArcelorMittal, LanzaTech and Primetals construct biofuel production facility

ArcelorMittal, LanzaTech, and Primetals Technologies have entered into a letter of intent to construct Europe’s first-ever commercial scale production facility to create bioethanol from waste gases produced during the steelmaking process. The resulting bioethanol can cut greenhouse gas emissions by over 80 per cent compared with conventional fossil fuels. The facility will be located at ArcelorMittal’s steel plant in Ghent, Belgium.

Construction of the €87 million flagship pilot project is anticipated to commence later this year, with bioethanol production expected to start mid-2017. Construction will be in two phases, with phase one providing an initial capacity of 16,000 tons of ethanol per annum by mid-2017 and phase two, which will be completed in 2018, bringing the total capacity to 47,000 tons of ethanol per annum.

The project, sufficient to fuel half a million cars with ethanol blended gasoline, will demonstrate the added value of recycling waste streams, not only by reducing emissions at source, hence reducing ArcelorMittal’s direct carbon footprint, but by keeping fossil fuels in the ground through the production of commodity chemicals and fuels that would otherwise be made from oil.

Background of the project

Approximately 50 per cent of the carbon used in the chemistry of steelmaking leaves the process as carbon monoxide. Today, this waste gas stream is either flared or used to heat and power the steel mill. In either case, the carbon monoxide is combusted and the resulting CO2 is emitted. LanzaTech’s technology, however, recycles the waste gases and ferments them with a proprietary microbe to produce bioethanol. Every ton of bioethanol produced, displaces 5.2 barrels of gasoline as well as reducing ArcelorMittal’s CO2 emissions by 2.3 tons.

About the contractors

ArcelorMittal, which has been working on this project since 2011, has signed a long-term partnership agreement with LanzaTech. Hence, once construction of the Ghent flagship plant is complete and the commercial viability of the project is proven, the intention is to construct further plants across ArcelorMittal’s operations. If scaled up to its full potential in Europe, the technology could enable the production of around 500,000 tons of bioethanol a year.

LanzaTech’s carbon recycling technology was recently awarded the United States’ highest green chemistry honor, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Presidential Green Chemistry Award. LanzaTech is collaborating with companies across multiple sectors including US aircraft manufacturer Boeing and Japanese industrial conglomerate Mitsui.

Primetals Technologies will be responsible for part of the engineering, automation, key equipment and commissioning.

Financing of the project

As the production of bioethanol is a new activity, ArcelorMittal intends to set up a dedicated company for the roll out of this technology with strategic financial partners. Financing will be sought from a number of different sources. A total of €10.2 million has been secured under the EU’s 2020 Horizon programme for research and development and talks are currently taking place with potential equity and debt partners. 

(Source: ArcelorMittal; LanzaTech)

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